Published: Harper Perennial - March 27th, 2012
I must confess, when originally offered the opportunity to read an advance copy of Bottom Of The Thirty Third, I had some misgivings. I am a baseball fan for sure, but even a baseball fan can get itchy now and then when a low scoring game heads into the 10th, 11th, then 12th inning, and neither team seems to want the win. "33 innings," I thought, that's a lot of low scoring innings to profile. But then I paused. "Unless..." I began to think. Unless there was a particular variety of baseball magic in the air that evening. Unless the author somehow manages to capture the grace and humanity inherent to the game of baseball. Unless the untainted nitty gritty dignity of the minor leagues, and a love of the game that may or may not get a given player a shot at the major leagues, unless that comes shining through. Unless the few die hard fans freezing cold in the Easter morning chill, the scorekeeper, the announcers no one has ever heard of- unless they have a story to tell as well. Author Dan Barry has given us all that and more. A portrait of an endless game for the ages, a cross roads of humanity- some bound for glory (Boggs, Ripken and more), others obscurity- and a cross roads of American civilization played out in the former mill town of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. On the one hand, it is a simple formula- take us through a few snippets of the game, then offer background profiles of the city or a given player or fan or coach, each in turn. Yet the simplicity is deceiving- this is the stuff that Pulitzers are made of. A warm, insightful revelation of a particular and memorable slice of Americana. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine
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Published: Anchor - May 3rd, 2011
Serious baseball fans will want to grab The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron, by Howard Bryant. How the major league leader in career runs batted in, not to mention the obvious--one of the greatest home run hitters in the history of the game (#2 on the career list)-- could be under-appreciated is beyond me and yet this book shows how Aaron endured slight after snub throughout his career. Bryant's book is a comprehensive look at the life of a man and a ball player who may just deserve the designation of hero. ~ Reviewed by Stan Hynds
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Published: Harper Perennial - October 4th, 2011
Deep research and sensitive writing combine in an honest, rather sad, yet relentlessly fascinating biography of this iconic American. And a provocative answer to the 50 year old question: who was better ?
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Availability: Out of Print
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - March 4th, 2008
He wore glasses and played baseball poorly and that made life hard for Phil Hoose when his family moved to Speedway, Indiana when he was nine years old. Then he found out that his father's first cousin was Don Larsen, a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees. Life got a little better. But life would get even better than that on October 8, 1956. This wonderful childhood memoir recreates one of the great achievements in modern sports history and softened my heart (for once, for just one game 50 years ago) toward the Yankees. ~ Reviewed by Stan Hynds
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Published: Scribner - September 6th, 2005
This is an enjoyable game by game, sometimes day-by-day, recounting of the Red Sox 2004 Championship season. In the journal entries of lifelong, die hard fans O'Nan and King, we become deeply acquainted with the chronic disease that is Red Sox fandom. These guys are obsessed (even moreso than yours truly) but their microcosmic obsession with every element of the shaping of the 2004 Red Sox roster and team dynamic from training camp onwards serves the reader well.
We get a behind the scenes look at what goes on in the high pressure world of the armchair or box seated- big league manager as King and O'Nan swap both journal entries and e-mails, kibbitzing and knit picking every player move and management decision (trans. mistake) that marks the typical fan' typical helpless frustration. All of which serves to keep the story's climax (shh, don't tell if you already know how it ends) all the more uplifting when, in spite of it all, we witness again through the writers' eyes the unfolding of one of the grandest "miracles" in sporting history.
Funny and informative, the perfect fix for those mid-winter, baseball- missing blues! ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine
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Published: Avery - March 1st, 2007
Shocking and incredibly revealing! This book offers a detailed account of the Balco steroids scandal that has been compared to the Chicago Black Sox World Series scandal of 1919. Includes an inside look into the career of Barry Bonds and his demeaning treatment of most everyone around him. An eye-opening page-turner and a must read for any sports fan.